Nov 25, 2020 5:36 AM
Naima and Elie
Permalink

Naima has been spending most of every day in the temples ever since she returned to Sothis. It's a lot better than assassinating people. It turns out that assassinating people mostly consists of spending more than a month keeping your head down and obsessively stalking them, and you can't do any medicine while you're keeping your head down. 

She's missed it. She feels for the first time like she's learning things while she's helping people, taking notes on who shows what symptoms and how likely she is to be able to help them recover, determining which illnesses are most common and which illnesses are the most deadly. Occasionally learning absolutely bizarre things, like that cancer doesn't register as a disease or a poison. There's a lot of work to be done. Kind of an overwhelming amount. Which is good, really, because if there were a less overwhelming amount of work then she would probably end up spending a lot more time thinking about what she's going to do about Elie.

It's a little less awkward now than it was immediately after their conversation. Which is also good, because if it wasn't it would really be making the medical research stuff difficult, given that Elie is still watching her work every day. (It would make her kind of sad if he stopped, at this point.)

Total: 28
Posts Per Page:
Permalink

Élie can't believe they actually pulled it off. He hasn't thought the Chelish security forces were infallible for almost ten years, now – after all, he's still alive – but the whole thing went off so smoothly it doesn't seems real. Probably the governor will talk or some soldier on leave from the House of Oblivion will have recognized them skulking around the embassy or the clingy devil boyfriend will show up, who knows, this is a problem for Future Élie. Present Élie has work to do. 

He's making on two headbands, for one thing: mental prowess for Naima, vast intelligence for him. He hadn't expected magic item creation to be interesting, just lucrative, so he's surprised at how much he likes it. It's like solving a puzzle – holding the spell in place, shaping it to the material, finding efficiencies. So it's a little repetitive after the first few weeks, but he doesn't mind. He's motivated. When he's not working on the headbands, he spends most of his time with Naima, watching her, writing down what herbs she uses and how much and where she finds them and how she administers them. Bafflingly, she never makes measurements herself. She just knows. Whatever she's doing doesn't look like magic – and he's casting detect magic just about every minute – but it doesn't look like any kind of mundane medicine he's ever heard of. If they could just understand what she's doing, they'd have the secret to true arcane healing. He's sure of it. If he was just a little bit smarter – 

Well, if he was just a little bit smarter, maybe he'd have known what to say to her during that one very awkward conversation. 

Permalink

She'll probably have to think about the conversation again at some point - it's not like she can go on indefinitely ignoring the fact that she doesn't have a husband, and is not particularly sure how to make progress on fixing this, but at the moment she's working. 

"No disease," she says, after checking in on a patient who yesterday's remedies did nothing for. "I guess there's nothing I can do for that. I wish I knew what it meant for something that's obviously causing an illness not to be a poison or a disease. Obviously some people are born put together wrong, but like - cancer. I have no idea what cancer is."

Permalink

"Maybe the rest of the symptoms are caused by the tumors and the tumors are technically some sort of injury? But that doesn't explain why your remedies can treat pain or exhaustion or fever when they're caused by things that are technically classifiable as diseases but not when they're caused by cancer. Do the remedies only have any effect at all on things that register to Diagnose Disease? I wonder if there's some kind of natural category there, it'd point to them being magical." 

Permalink

"If it were a poison I would have a chance, I can handle poisoning most of the time. And I can treat some miscellaneous complaints, even if the person in question has tumors. Can't seem to do anything to stop them from dying when the growths get big enough, though, and it's really a waste to spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to make someone less tired for a little while when you could instead be working on - you know." She gestures vaguely at the other sick people.

Permalink

"I still think there has to be some underlying logic to it. Maybe we'll know more when I get around to building a working magnifier. I was going to find a lens-grinder, but – " He gestures back at the other sick people. "I'll try and do that tomorrow." 

Permalink

"That'd be really good. I think we'll be able to learn a lot more if we can see more of what we're doing."

Permalink

Élie honestly isn't sure he can replicate the magnifying device Naima saw in Axis. He doesn't have any experience crafting purely mundane objects, but, hey, he can imbue a scrap of fabric with his instantiated will so it can't possibly be that difficult. 

"I know! There's so much here we obviously don't understand – " 

He can get very exercised on the subject of things we don't understand. 

Permalink

Naima very much appreciates people discussing how little we understand and how hard we should be working on understanding more.

There are a lot of sick people in Sothis. On the rare occasions that one of the large temples runs out of sick people hoping for help, there are always more at another one. Relatedly, Naima works somewhat ridiculous hours. She is happy for the company, but doesn't necessarily expect Élie to continue taking notes until she's ready to call it for the day and head home. Until then, she can answer questions about the many different things she's doing.

Permalink

He should probably head home. He has his own projects to work on, and he's still supposed to talk to that woman from the planar collegium, and while he technically doesn't need more than two hours of sleep a night he does still like it. But he likes talking to Naima, too. 

Permalink

That's good. She was mildly worried about that, given recent sort of awkward events. But he should definitely go work on his own projects, too.

She'll stay at the temple until just before sundown, or maybe until a point during sundown where you can still say 'I'm on my way home, officer,' if any city guards inform you that women are not to be out at night without a male relative. That gives her a couple hours to play with play with her two-year-old, who is getting so much bigger than anybody ever expected him to. And once he's down she has a few more hours to read her very large stack of books.

She heads out again at the earliest sign of something that you can argue counts as dawn. The curfew will probably be somewhat  more annoying in winter, if she hasn't figured something out by then, but it's Desnus, now, so she's trying not to be too upset about it. And maybe she won't have to worry about it by Kuthona. Élie said he wanted her to spend six months looking, which Is admittedly getting on toward winter, and also she doesn't actually have any idea how to go about having adequately looked, but - maybe she can figure that out in a bit. After she's done with work for the day.

She reaches the temple just as the sun is really starting to come up, and settles in to check on the people who she treated yesterday. She figures Élie will be in later in the morning.

Permalink

He's not. 

Permalink

...okay, well, weird, she would have expected him to say something if he wasn't going to be in at all, since he does come in pretty much every day, but if he's not, then - well, that's up to him, isn't it.

 

She leaves the temple a little early, so that she can visit the place where he's rented a room and knock on the door and make extra sure that nothing important has come up. She's not entirely sure what she's thinking might have happened, and people have a perfect right not to show up for things they aren't even earning any money at, but - well, they did just assassinate the Chelish ambassador to Thuvia, and he would probably check in on her if she had failed to come in. Which is not a perfect comparison, since it would be much more out of character for her to skip out on a chance to practice medicine and earn money, but - whatever. At worst he'll tell her that nothing is wrong, and she can leave immediately.

Permalink

Nobody answers. 

Permalink

Probably he's just out. Men can be out at this hour.

But she knocks at the door, again, and calls from outside that it's her, and then turns into a dragonfly and flits in through the window to look around. If he's angry about that then she will look very stupid, but less stupid than she would look if they had not just assassinated someone.

Permalink

He's not there. The bed doesn't look like it's been slept in. 

Permalink

She's probably worrying about nothing. Probably something came up with his work, or he learned about something interesting that he wanted to research, or maybe she said something stupid yesterday, and didn't realize, and made him annoyed about the fact that she asked if he wanted to marry her, and now he doesn't want to talk. Maybe he thinks she's gotten foolishly attached to him, and is trying to cure her of it, and will be very concerned when it turns out that she's so excessively attached to him that she's willing to break into his house when he doesn't show up to see her for one single day. All of those things are possible and all of them are at least as likely as retaliation from infernal forces.

She's going to feel even more stupid if something's happened and she ignores it, though. She could scry him. She can do that, now. She even has it prepared. She's been doing that, lately, getting ahead of herself, just in case something comes up and she needs it. She would need a mirror. A very big, very expensive mirror. Besides that, it'll take her an hour, and that'll probably put her past sunset.

 

She falls out of dragonfly form while she's thinking about this.

She supposes she might as well look around for any evidence that he's been in here since yesterday. That's kind of insane, but not that much more insane than scrying someone, and anyway it's less expensive.

Permalink

She can't find his spellbook. There are a few cups of coffee lying around in varying states of emptiness, but who's to say how long he leaves those lying around. The desk is covered in papers. One of them – at the top of the pile – isn't in his handwriting. 

 

Permalink

....she is getting steadily more intrusive by the minute, but if something has happened, then - 

She reads it and tells herself she's skimming.

Permalink

It's a letter. 

"Julien –– 

You will, no doubt, be surprised to hear from me. I am no less surprised to find myself writing to you. I will not insult your intelligence or mine by pretending that all is forgiven, or that we can ever be what we once where to each other. Nevertheless, I will be blunt: I need your help. I told myself many times that I would die rather than ask it of you. And I would, gladly – but not at the hands of the Chelish. I have been living here, in Sothis, under an assumed name, for almost a two years now. I foolishly assumed that the diabolists had lost interest in picking us off after we threw off their yoke, but I underestimated their pettiness. If their agents here have identified me, I am in grave danger. Naturally, you have every reason to doubt my motives. In your place I would do the same. I have no proof to offer you. I can only hope that when you spoke to me of your faith in the human spirit, you did not lie – and that you are content with the blood of Gérard and Eugénie. 

Yours, in memory of better days, 

Charles-Alexandre Altan de Tarne-Morgayn." 

Permalink

Well that doesn't sound good. But it's not very much evidence that something's happened - she can feel herself making up possible stories about what could have happened, but they all feel stupid, making extra connections between things that don't deserve to be glued together. He's probably fine. 

...he almost always comes to the temple, though. And she doesn't think he's entirely skipped a day since she started practicing without noting beforehand that he was going to do that.

It is possible that Élie tried to help an old friend - an old enemy? - and in doing so attracted the attention of whatever Chelish forces were after the friend. It is possible that the old friend is more an enemy than he claims. And it is possible that the letter is unrelated, but that someone has connected him to the disappearance of the Chelish ambassador to Thuvia, and in that case - none of these is very likely, perhaps, but they might be too likely to ignore - she would feel awful if something had happened and she ignored it, especially with the rest of the party dispersed on their own errands like they are now -

She bites her lip and glances out at the sun. It's low. She has enough time to make it to her own house. She does not think she has enough time to make it much of anywhere else. But if something has happened, and she leaves it for an entire night - if he's dead, and someone plans to go to an effort to spoil the body, or captured, and being read or tortured for information about who he was working with - this is her imagining far worse than whatever's really happening, almost certainly, but the general point holds. If something really has happened to him then it might not be safe to leave the situation all night. 

 

She can hear Tariq in her head, noting that she seemed chaotic now. She'd argued with him. She hadn't argued very insistently. She's not chaotic, not yet, she knows what her alignment is, but she doesn't think there's anything in particular stopping her from ending up there. As she rifles through Élie's closet and changes into ill-fitting men's clothes, she silently grants her late husband the point. She stuffs her own clothes and the letter in her pack, and then walks out of the room, trying very very hard not to call attention to herself. No one stops her. She's not sure whether that's because they haven't happened to look very closely.

She arrives at the Temple of the All-Seeing Eye just as the sun is sinking out of view. There are still wizards around; mid-circle wizards keep long hours. She asks around about whether there's a scrying mirror that someone might let her use for an hour, for a fee. She hopes her voice isn't too obviously feminine, and also hopes that no one thinks about how weird it is for a man young enough to have her voice to also be powerful enough to cast fourth-circle spells. They do, in fact, have a mirror that isn't in use, so she pays the temple staff and then tries very hard to calm herself down enough to complete the casting of the spell.

(Élie has a good will save. It might not work. But it seems like the thing to try, if she isn't very sure what sort of thing might have gone wrong.)

Permalink

Élie has a good will save. He also has Detect Scrying

His head's still fuzzy when it hits him. There's a brief mental wrestling match – which he wins, he thinks, and his vision opens up to an image of Naima, pacing over a mirror, and a vague pull to the south and east. When the scry resolves half a moment later, he lets it. 

He's alone in a small, dark room. The walls and the floor and the ceiling are made of overlapping wooden slats, there's an unstrung hammock and a coil of rope in one corner and the whole affair seems to be bobbing up and down. A ship, maybe. He's been gagged. It's hard to make out details – there's really almost no light – but the way his arms are twisted behind his back doesn't look especially natural. 

Permalink

- well, she feels a lot less stupid now, but it turns out that actually that is absolutely no comfort at all in this situation. 

Most scries aren't high-quality enough to send messages through, but she figures she has to try.

"This is Naima," she whispers. "Do you know where you are?"

Permalink

His eyes get a little wider.

He starts to nod – pauses – because he's an idiot and she can obviously see that he's on a boat. A boat headed north and west of Sothis. He nodes again, more cautiously. 

He doesn't know where he is, exactly, but it doesn't take a genius to figure out where he's going. 

Permalink

Gaaah she wishes she could do something. Can't help him until she knows more about what's going on. "Do you know who kidnapped you?"

Permalink

Nods. Maybe she searched his rooms. Maybe she found the letter. Maybe there's a better way to communicate, this is ridiculous, next time he gets kidnapped he's going to invent some kind of code with nodding and blinking.

Total: 28
Posts Per Page: